Whether you want to start with some more exotic chickens or simply add some color to your flock, you need to know about ornamental chickens. Ornamental chickens, or show chicken breeds, are the chickens that are raised not because of their meat or egg production but because of their appearance. They’re typically more high-maintenance and more expensive than regular chickens which means that their fertilized eggs, chicks and pullets are more valuable.
Check out some of the most beautiful ornamental breeds! You can click on their names for more info on how to get them.
Ornamental feature: Head feathers
This beautiful ornamental breed is an old one. As their name suggest, the breed came to America from Poland in the 1800’s, although their actual origin is still a mystery. With their beautiful hair-do, the Polish chicken is hard to miss! While eye-catching, the head feathers can also be their biggest weakness. You’ll need to make sure to keep the feathers dry and clean and there’s a lot of work to do with them while preparing them for a show. Although this breed has impeded eyesight, they’re quite inquisitive. They also bear confinement very well (which is great to keep them safe) and are quite docile with adults and childs alike!
Ornamental feature: Long tail feathers
This gorgeous ornamental breed is quite ancient too, almost a thousand years old! This high-maintenance bird tends to be gentle and even friendly. They require a lot of care as to keep their tail feathers in good shape. You should also keep in mind that they need a diet high in protein to maintain their extra long plumage. They also require more space to be comfortable. Although they’re not good egg layers, the hens are great mothers, perfect for growing your flock.
Ornamental feature: Fluffy plumage
These beautiful balls of fluff became famous in the 1800’s when they were given to Queen Victoria as a gift, who famously adored them. Their feathered feet require extra attention! You shouldn’t let them play after the rain to avoid their feet feathers getting wet. They make great pets and their appearance and gentle nature makes them perfect show birds.
Ornamental feature: General appearance
Another ancient breed, you can track their history back to the 1700’s! Their Dutch name means “a shadow on a sheet” and it couldn’t be more in line to their appearance. This striking breed is also useful, laying around 160 porcelain-white eggs per year. They’re also quite active making them perfect for free range.
Ornamental feature: Appearance and history
As their name suggest, this ornamental breed is one of the oldest ones. Originated in England, they were famously raised as cockfighters. They’re confident, noisy and quite active so they do not tolerate being confined. Their beautiful plumage and intricate history sets them apart and can make them pricier than other chickens.
Ornamental feature: Fluffy plumage
One of the most popular ornamental chickens today, the Silkies are famously gentle, friendly and have amazing little personalities. They were first mentioned by Marco Polo, who described them as “furry chickens”. Their plumage requires special attention to keep it dry and free of mites. Their appearance and friendliness makes them great for kids and a favorite for shows. Like some of the other breeds on this list they’re also great mothers, accepting other eggs as their own, even duck eggs!
Ornamental feature: Unique appearance
The “Lamborghini of chickens”, this striking breed is not only the most expensive of our list, it’s the most expensive of the world. Their breathtaking appearance is caused by a dominant gene that gives them “hyperpigmentation” by an increase of melanin. And it’s not only their feathers. Their skin, their bones, even their organs are black. When seeing their iridescent feathers under the sun, it’s easy to see why the Indonesians believed them to be magical; a connection between our world and the spirit world. You can learn more about this fascinating breed right here.
So out of all of these, which ones are your favorites? Do you own one of them already? Let us know in the comments below!